Slavic Saturday

In the spirit of the season I would like to mention one Czech tradition today. This week, Thursday December 6. was Saint Nicholas day. Name of the saint is in Czech “Mikuláš” and the evening before Saint Nicolas day Mikuláš travels through the country with an angel and a devil to reward children accordingly. Good children get sweets, bad children get coal etcetera. Santa Claus is nothing else than a poorly written spinoff.

The trio is usually either paid actors or volunteers who go from door-to-door for arranged visits to children, there are also visits to Kindergarten and to lower classes in School. Children are sometimes expected to recite a rhyme to Mikuláš to prove they are good, some children opt to being tongue-tied or hiding behind their mother.

I remember, as a pre-school child, being absolutely terrified by the whole trio. My parents never taught me that devils are real or anything such, nevertheless I still to this day remember how I was supposed to say a rhyme to Mikuláš but not being able to get anything out of me but a bawling scream of horror. I do not remember being confronted with the trio for the rest of my childhood afterwards.

Two of my friends have two beautiful, intelligent and lively sons, three and four years. When they were preparing them for Mikuláš’s visit at the kindergarten, they explained to them carefully and patiently that the visitors will be only actors, ordinary people dressed up and pretending. They also explicitly forbade the teacher to tell them otherwise and to scare the children. Even so, both boys were clearly afraid of the devil and in awe with Mikuláš and the angel and the experience was something for them to talk about afterwards.

Children’s power of make-believe at this age is so strong that lying to them is not necessary for them to enjoy (or being terrified by) the holiday at all.

Idioms & Expressions.

Have you ever been happily reading, and come across an idiom, expression, or turn of phrase you’re familiar with, and suddenly the absurdity of it strikes you? Came across one yesterday in one of Jim C. Hines’s Princess series, The Mermaid’s Madness. (Re-reading, they have become comfort reads).

“That earned another chuckle. “He’s prince of Lorindar. He’s not used to feeling powerless.” He climbed to his feet.”

Climbed to his feet. That means to stand up, but it’s a damned silly expression. The more I think on it, the sillier it becomes. I used to have a bunch of these absurdities in my head, but naturally I can’t think of any of them now. Out of curiosity, does anyone else have favourite absurdities of expressions? Or peeves?

Oh gods, I Got Rats!

Image: res.cloudinary.com

I love taking the silly quizzes at Medievalists, and I’ve missed a bunch. Naturally, I went for What Medieval Torture Method Would You Use on Your Enemies? first. I truly am evil, I got rats:

Rats

You are a creative thinker, and your enemies would be wise not to underestimate your imagination. Your preferred torture method is to restrain your victim on a flat, horizontal surface, then use inventive ways to trap rats so that their only means of escape is through the victim’s body. Not a pretty picture.

Well, I am certainly well armed with rats. :D I wouldn’t be able to torture them though.

RatWorks.™

The Chemical Crew has a great love of oil paints, which are kept seriously locked up most of the time. The other day, I squeezed the last out of a tube of black, and left that and a piece I was meh about on the drawing table, for the girls to have fun with. There was just a tiny bit of the tube left, and the girls left their imprimatur on the piece too, vastly improving it, I think. Look at all those lovely scrapes and scratches!

© Vala & The Chemical Crew.

The Rowboat Bath.

Some ideas were best discarded. This is one of them, from 1916.

The rowboat bath is the newest contribution to the physical enjoyment of living.

The rowboat bath is the newest contribution to the physical enjoyment of living.

"The rowing-bath has been perfected in a western sanitarium for the purpose of adding zest to the morning plunge. It is valuable as a curative measure, but it may also be used with enjoyment and benefit by any one. The rowing-bath consists of a metal container which is attached to the nozzle of an ordinary tub by means of a rubber cord sufficiently strong to give the element of exercise. Entering the tub, the bather attaches the rowing device and turns on the cold water. As it pours into the tube he scoops up the water and, pulling the container toward him with a rowing motion, empties it full upon his breast, thus securing the zest which accompanies the pleasant pastime of buffeting surf. This bath is a diversion from the ordinary "shower" on a hot summer day."

The rowing-bath has been perfected in a western sanitarium for the purpose of adding zest to the morning plunge. It is valuable as a curative measure, but it may also be used with enjoyment and benefit by any one.

The rowing-bath consists of a metal container which is attached to the nozzle of an ordinary tub by means of a rubber cord sufficiently strong to give the element of exercise. Entering the tub, the bather attaches the rowing device and turns on the cold water. As it pours into the tube he scoops up the water and, pulling the container toward him with a rowing motion, empties it full upon his breast, thus securing the zest which accompanies the pleasant pastime of buffeting surf. This bath is a diversion from the ordinary “shower” on a hot summer day.”

I wonder how many people bought this ridiculous thing before it sank into obscurity. Looking at that picture, all I can envision is what a mess it would make, and it wouldn’t be the male enthusiastic ‘rower’ who cleaned it all up, either.

Via The Public Domain.

Hey, Art!

Not really. :D This is one of the T-shirts I was using when doing Submerged, then the rats did their part. I’m sure if I was enough of a pretentious twit, framed it, stuck it in a gallery, and made up a buncha twaddle about its significance, I could make good change off it. That won’t happen though. It’s gone back to the rats. Click for full size.

© C. Ford.

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Via Craigslist.